Bernanke, Ben Shalom

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Bernanke, Ben Shalom

Ben Shalom Bernanke (bĕrnăngk´ē), 1953–, U.S. economist and government official, b. Augusta, Ga.; grad. Harvard (B.A., 1975), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Ph.D., 1979). He was a professor of economics at Stanford (1979–85) and Princeton (1985–2002) and an academic advisory panel member (1990–2002) at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York before serving (2003–5) as a member of the Federal Reserve's board of governors. An authority on monetary policy and the Great Depression and in general a supporter of Alan Greenspan's Federal Reserve policies, he became (2005) chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush. In 2006 Bernanke succeeded Greenspan as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. Regarded as favoring consistency and transparency in central banking, he also came to be seen as innovative and flexible in his approach to U.S. and world financial problems and the recession resulting from the mortgage and credit crises that began in 2007. At the same time, however, he failed to anticipate the collapse of the housing and credit bubbles that led to the global financial crisis. Under Bernanke the Federal Reserve greatly expanded its lending to financial institutions (and enormously broadened the range of such institutions it lends to) in order to preserve liquidity in the international financial system and facilitate lending by financial institutions and generally moved aggressively to support the financial system and revive the economy. He was reappointed as chairman by President Obama in 2010 and served until 2014, when Janet Yellen succeeded him. Bernanke then became a fellow at the Brookings Institution and an adviser to investment firms.

See The Courage to Act (2015), his account of the global financial crisis. See also study by D. Wessel (2009).

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